Building a Cob Community Space for the Bell-Hayes Family at “Rock the Bells” Homestead in Central Texas (Waco)

Date(s) - Sunday, September 29, 2024 - Sunday, November 3, 2024
8:30 am - 5:30 am



Introducing our Hosts: Jechelle (mom), Qwihnai (13), Azahn & Oziah (14), Tsunela (16)! Gonna be an unforgettable build with this family!

Nestled in the heart of Central Texas, our family saga unfolds amidst the gentle whispers of history and the steadfast embrace of the land. For over 150 years, our roots have been woven deeply into the fertile soil of this rural farming community. In October 2014, during a time shadowed by the loss of beloved elders, we returned home. Just a stone’s throw from the mighty Brazos River, south of Lake Whitney and north of Lake Waco, our ancestral land sits cradled between the Patton Branch and Aquila Creeks, enveloped by native pecan trees and ancient live oaks, all teeming with life and wild mustang grapevines.

Relocating from the bustling streets of Washington DC to the tranquil expanses of Texas with my 4 amazing offspring Tsunela (16), Azahn (14), Oziah (14), and Qwihnai (13),  our tribe sought stability and a reconnection with our roots. This transformative odyssey was in full swing as my children’s Dad, with our daughter Nela, twin boys Oz and Az, and our youngest son Qwihn and I started renovating our century-old family home. Amidst this labor of love, turmoil struck and their father left. Heart-wrenched, I moved the children to the city, determined to return to the “Farm to Market”.

The Clan with the Matriarch holdin’ it down!

Despite repeated relocations and the shadows of employment and housing instability, we forged ahead.  In the waning days of December 2019, we celebrated the soft opening of our vintage clothing and hand-crafted organic wine shoppe—a moment of joy and accomplishment for our family. Yet, this celebration was quickly overshadowed by the harrowing events that unfolded just as the new year began.  January 2020 brought with it dark uncertainties. As the global pandemic indiscriminately left a trail of destruction in its wake, our family faced a personal tragedy—the brutal, yet unresolved murder/euthanasia of my brother. These horrific events shook our family to its core, stripping us of any solace or closure, as he was mercilessly taken from us without the comfort of family or friends by his side.

Thank God/dess for our Youth!

These calamities—the pandemic’s relentless spread and the shocking loss of a loved one—cast a long, somber shadow over what was meant to be a fresh start for us. We found ourselves grappling with the profound grief of life and death, forever altering our perception of both.
As we grappled with the harrowing narrative of our brother’s untimely death, my four children, along with two of my sisters’ three children, aged between 9 and 14, stood by us. They were our solace as we searched for any semblance of truth in the devastating events. Together, they endured the weight of our grief, absorbing the deep sorrow that permeated our lives amidst the urban confines of a world gripped by the pandemic.

Future Cobber! Gotta feed the Souls when they show you what inspires them…

Driven by the stark realities of unstable housing and inspired by natural materials like mud, trees, and straw, as well as by a reality TV series, the children found an unexpected source of inspiration. They began to build—a tangible expression of their burgeoning resilience. Mud and grass are readily available in Texas in April. We discovered the children experimenting with raw materials trying to make cob. Using scraps and makeshift materials, they constructed a visionary shanty town, a vibrant symbol of their ability to transform desolation into a testament of youthful creativity.

Tsunela loves expressing herself through her drawing and painting. She’s also a prolific crocheter. Oziah and Azahn both love the outdoors. Oziah has a natural touch with animals and enjoys the construction arts. Azahn is currently focusing on developing his culinary skills. He is also quite an artist. Qwihnai was dubbed “the Mechanic”, a fitting name for the child who loves taking everything apart. They all love learning and experiencing new things and people.

This foot bridge carried grands and greats from home to the dirt road for over 100 years!

It has been a decade since we first set forth on this unexpected journey, one whose path we could scarcely have imagined. This October 2024, we invite you to “Rock the Bells” on Bell Road, as we celebrate a pivotal season of completion and coming of age. This workshop is more than an event, it is a profound testament to resilience and a heartfelt commemoration of our journey through the shadows of homelessness and displacement, and a joyful celebration of our children’s pivotal transition into adulthood.  Our venture into cob building is a tribute to this family’s unyielding spirit and determination, marking a decade of profound growth and self-discovery. With each cob wall we raise, we honor lives lost, celebrate significant milestones, and lay the foundation for a future fortified with strength, enriched with knowledge, and bound by community.

This suspension bridge crosses the Brazos river in Waco Texas near the Texas Ranger Museum built in 1870.

October weather brings a refreshing change from the oppressive summer temperatures, makingit a perfect time for outdoor activities. From rodeos to football, Waco boasts world-class attractions, including Baylor University and the Cameron Park Zoo. Peppered by attractions like the BSR wave and surf pool, the Texas Ranger and Dr. Pepper Museums, and the iconic Silos at Magnolia, there’s no shortage of things to get into in Waco. There’s also the stunning natural beauty of Lakes Waco and Whitney. Enjoy a relaxing day fishing at Aquilla Lake or/ at Lake Whitney. Whether casting lines, trail riding, hiking, or immersing yourself in the cultural tapestry of Waco, this workshop promises an unforgettable journey of connection and discovery. There is no shortage of outdoor activities in McLennan County and beyond. A night or weekend on the town in Dallas/Fort Worth or Austin are feasible locations, less than 2 hours away.

Our future cob cottage site!

As participants prepare for their immersive cob building experience, we offer a gentle reminder to embrace the rhythm of Texas weather and wilderness. With October nights cooling to the mid-50s and days warming to the 80s, as well as a bit of rain and full engagement with the untamed beauty of the wilderness, we encourage participants to bring appropriate clothing (more details shared in Welcome Letter) and gear for camping, hiking, fishing, weekend excursions, and just hangin’ and chillin’ on the land. Amidst the tranquil serenity of our sanctuary, we remain ever-mindful of the presence of wildcats, hogs, coyotes, and the occasional venomous snake, urging caution and respect for the delicate balance of nature. We are truly amongst the wild things which we will talk about more in the Host Orientation. As the cob walls rise, we invite participants to join us in honoring the resilience of the human spirit and embracing the timeless beauty of the Texas landscape.

We would like to invite BIPOC students to feel very welcome to attend this workshop as we expand our student diversity to represent ALL who want to learn to build themselves an affordable, beautiful, healthy, durable, safe, environmentally-respectful and peaceful home on the Planet!  We will be addressing permit/no permit routes and of course the recently-adopted Cob Construction Appendix or Cob Code! Please contact us asap to take advantage of the work trade spots and other assistance possibilities if needed.






Puerto Rico certified Cobbers taking a well-deserved chillout after completing the Green Roof on schedule on the last day of the workshop! (February 2024)

We will be building a 14m2/150ft2 round cob bungalow/cottage for our Host family. Students in this Advanced Cobber Certification training will, as always, learn all the steps to building a complete cob building from scratch: digging the trench and building a stone foundation and pouring the floor in week 1, building the monolithic cob wall with all its details in weeks 2 & 3, sculpting the wall in week 3, plastering in week 4, building the completed roof in weeks 4 & 5 and finishing the wall and the second floor coat at the end of week 5.




Megumi from Japan blissed out as she sculpts Cacao beans honoring the fruit of the land at Finca Remedio, Puerto Rico (February 2024)

The 35-day Advanced Cob Building Workshop consists of 25 days (Monday through Friday) of learning & construction for 4 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon with theoretical instruction (lectures with graphics) on most Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons to complement the hands-on experience.

Students arrive on Sunday between noon and 2pm and settle in.  Saturday arrival is ok as well after confirming with Claudine who will confirm with Host. (Note: Students are responsible for their own meals until dinner on Sunday). The workshop begins at 4pm with the Opening Circle followed by a Host Site Orientation and Introduction to the Project. Dinner is served at 6pm, and will be followed by an Introduction to the 5-week Workshop by Instructor & Assistant.  Monday morning we begin digging the trench for our Cob Building!!!!

Cob Wall rising…with Alejandra and Britt on task in Puerto Rico! (February 2024)

Following Breakfast from 7:30-8:15am, the morning learning/building session begins at 8:30 am and lasts until 1pm with a 20-minute snack pause at 11am. Lunch break is from 1pm to 2:30pm, which includes a rest time before the 3-hour afternoon session begins. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays there is a 60-minute lecture, followed by construction time. Tuesdays and Thursdays students begin building again right after the rest time. After class in the afternoon there is a 90-minute break before dinner (served from 7pm to 8pm), in which students are encouraged to stretch, do some type of relaxation/movement practice, go swimming, walking and just relax.

Shared leadership of morning movement practices every morning makes for healthy Cobbers! (February 2024)

There is sometimes a work trade student officially or informally leading yoga and movement practice in the mornings or afternoons (depending on student preference). There will also be 3-4 evenings (once a week) after dinner for showing slides,videos and having Course-related discussions. Other evenings are mostly free and sometimes students offer informal courses in their specialties and passions. Mondays are reserved for our weekly Council Circle, where we do a deeper sharing and listening to attend to the inner worlds of our students and staff during this intense experience.

Final Council Circle under the inspiration of the bamboo reciprocal roof in Borikén (February 2024)

On weekends students are free to explore the area, rest onsite, and even continue building, with Instructor approval.  All weekend meals are provided by students who can use the kitchen.  Host and other students can carpool into town for weekend food provisions.
The 35-day Course will offer practical learning by building a complete 15m2 curvilinear building from foundation to roof, as 
described in the “Project” section. Those who complete the 35-day Workshop will receive an Advanced Cobber Certificate of Completion for Foundation, Cob Walls (which includes Door, Windows, Shelves, Art, Electrical Housing & Plumbing preparation), Floor, Plaster & Roof.

The Advanced Cob Building Workshop begins on a Sunday at 4pm and ends on a Sunday, 5 weeks later, after the morning Closing Circle & Brunch. Students can arrive a day or two before to acclimate and settle in (please let us know) but will need to cover their own food
 needs unless a work trade is approved by Host (to be decided closer to the date).

The daily schedule (subject to slight modifications due to climate/time of year) will be:

7:30-8:15 Breakfast

8:30-1:00 Class

1:00-2:30 Lunch

2:30-5:30 Class (Lecture on MWF’s)

5:30-7:00 Rest/Yoga

7:00-8:00 Dinner

8:00-9:00 Slides/Videos/Discussion (once a week)

Students are expected to be on time and participate in all sessions and required activities as the goal of building a full construction depends on the whole group working together!




Students will learn every phase of building a cob building from foundation through the reciprocal roof in hands-on building and lectures/theory. In addition to the lectures,
 slideshows and videos will be shown to support and enhance their understanding of cob materials, cob building, design, geography, budgeting, business options and legal issues.

Our hands-on practice will include:

digging foundation trench
pouring gravel and inserting drainage pipe (if applicable)
building foundation stemwall
analyzing soils and materials
making test bricks
deciding on correct mixture
deciding on best location
making cob w/ partner and solo
building with cob
preparing and inserting the door
preparing and inserting fixed and opening windows
preparing and inserting shelves
inserting bottle windows, glass and other objects
inserting electrical housing and outlet/switch boxes (when applicable)*
insert PVC pipe for plumbing in walls (when applicable)*
preparing and applying earthen plaster (1 coat)
pouring an earthen floor (2 coats)
preparing walls for roof connection
building reciprocal roof frame
putting on roof sheathing and other elements
installing green roof
making small-scale cob designs of future projects, time permitting

In addition to Cob Building practices, the Course material
also includes:

legal cob construction practices & the international cob code (Appendix AU in the IRC)
cost analysis
creating a cob business (building/teaching)
assisting, interning and teaching with CruzinCobGlobal

*While the insertion of electrical housing and one or more outlet/switch boxes and PVC pipes to hold plumbing are always included in the workshops, the simplicity or complexity depends on the host’s design and preferences. There will be no electrical wiring or plumbing pipes installed during workshop. That is beyond the focus of this course and requires professional experience and certification/licensing.



Students will need to come prepared for demanding physical work from Day 1.
This includes bringing:

Work clothes appropriate for the country and climate we are in
Work boots or other closed-toe shoes (for foundation and roof)
Flip-flops (for cobbing/plaster days)
Rubber dishwashing gloves (for lime mortar)
Work Gloves (for stone work)
Tape Measure
Box Cutter
Wood Hand Saw (cheap)*
Level (2ft)*
Japanese plastering trowel(s) (
Ear Plugs (roof week)
Wood Chisel*
4”-6” Diameter Round Plastic Container Lids (for plastering)
Good Moisturizer
Water Bottle
Safety Glasses
Carpenter Pencil & Sharpener
Sample of your Soil (optional)

*These tools will be very helpful to bring if you can, to minimize sharing and waiting, but if you can’t the Host will provide them of course.




Da Crew in Puerto RIco! (February 2024)

These workshops are designed for people that want to learn how to build a complete structure from start to finish in a professional manner and amount of time. They are very intensive and, while we make time for yoga, stretching, dancing, music, relaxing….all students are expected to be present and participating in all building/learning hours unless ill or have some other significant reason. This is because we design the size of the building
 and organize the structure of the workshop in accordance with the number of students and when people are absent it impacts the whole group and the other students have to work harder. In addition Instructors try to set up building work according to students’ preferences and learning needs.

Alicia wrapping up the second floor coat on the last day in Borikén (February, 2024)

That being said, the workshop intensity also changes from week 1 to week 5. The first foundation week breaks people in with the work of moving, lifting, rolling and placing rocks and is a new and demanding physical experience for most students. It also includes
the first layers and coat of cob floor. The second week and part of the third week of cob making and building are similar to the rock foundation week in physical demand but are more flowing and active in movement and cardiovascular exercise. On Thursday & Friday of week 3, the workshop takes a turn and slows down and the body can rest as students tap into their creative source now  and design and sculpt the walls and around niches, shelves, windows, etc.  This is a very special rewarding experience and time of the workshop, decorating the walls with visual beauty and meaning as expressed by each unique student.  Usually there is an overarching theme decided on by Host(s).

Stunning indigenous Taína symbols adorn the Cob Cottage at Finca Remedio in Utuado (February 2024)

Plastering follows sculpting and is also an enjoyable more lightweight physical experience that lends itself to talking and sharing at the wall in a meditative rhythm as the students have bonded and shared deeply through a variety of experiences for a month. On day 5 of week 4, the roof begins.  This part is the beginning of a change of pace from the earthen building work to carpentry skills, power tools, drilling, hammering, screwing, trimming, etc. But now the workshop is in its final stretch and there is a boost of energy to wrap up the roof, close the top of the wall, and tend to finishing touches….the grand finale.
For students wanting a more mellow slow-paced cob experience along with time for personal exploration and experimentation, these workshops are not for you. However you can find a more suitable workshop online with other organizations that are usually for a
 shorter period building a garden wall, a bench, a compost toilet or some other smaller scale project.

Cooper Green made a YouTube series called “How to Build a Mud House” based on our 2023 North Carolina workshop!

Students are required to read “The Hand-Sculpted House” and “Essential Cob Construction” by Anthony Dente, Michael Smith and Massey Burke before the workshop begins, and any other books they find or listed on our Resources page, ideally on plastering and reciprocal roof building, as well as watching our “International Cob Workshop” videos on Claudine’s YouTube channel, the new educational YouTube series “Building a Mud Home” by Cooper Green, posted by Natural Buildings and created from our North Carolina workshop footage, and the ones posted on CruzinCobGlobal’s website under Gallery, to get an idea of what is expected. Also it is a great idea to watch as many other videos on cob and reciprocal roofs as you can to come mentally prepared. Please bring your book(s).

Practicing the reciprocal roof on the ground before the “real” thing!

Students must tend to their own personal needs, drink alot of water, rest when needed and exert themselves at a steady pace. Students who cannot do the strenuous physical work should let us know when registering so we can make sure the workshop is a good fit. If approved before the workshop begins, we can adjust appropriately. It is totally OK to come for the lecture/theory part, and sometimes help the building part in less physically
 demanding ways if you have physical limitations, ie cutting straw, sifting for plaster, hammering nails into frames or shelves, sculpting, plastering, cutting bottles. There is alot to do to support making and building with cob!!!!

Sheathing goes on

Everyone’s a carpenter in our workshops!

Finally, please bring a watch or use your phone to be prompt and ready for each part of the Course including meals. Please make sure you share your dietary restrictions/allergies with CCG in your registration form. Note that very demanding dietary needs will not be
 able to be met (vegan & non-gluten ok) and those students may be recommended not to participate unless they are willing to meet their special needs on their own, which will not include kitchen access on weekdays. Please discuss with Claudine at time of desire to register. Also please bring your essential snacks and foods, pillow and whatever you NEED to be comfortable and happy. Feel free to also bring playlists, speaker, slides, videos,
movies and books to share, as well as a sample of your soil to test.

We look forward to opening you to a whole new world of experience, skill, growth and transformation as you bond with your new COB family for life!



We will serve three meals a day from Monday through Friday including the Welcome and Celebration Dinners and Farewell Brunch.  Weekends students will be on their own for food and may use the onsite kitchen.  Meals will be vegetarian and locally-based as much as possible, including farm produce and eggs!

We will attend to vegan and gluten-free diets if needed but any other restrictions & allergies that require extensive preparation needs will not be able to be honored. And kitchen will only be accessible on weekends for students.

Camping in your own tent is available for everyone AND… there will also be simple communal indoor accommodations on the floor of the loft spaces in the house with air mattresses (or bring your own) for 8-10 people and Airbnb options nearby. Please inquire with Claudine if you want an Airbnb option (vehicle required).  Please bring a good tent and warm sleeping bag, pad, pillow and extra blanket (if u can)… or camping hammock.




Waco is 2 hrs from both Dallas and Austin.  Carpooling will be available in June when the Whatsapp group is created, to help students who are flying in get a ride to the site.  Camping vans and car camping are welcome.



Very Early Bird Rate: USD$2500, paid in full by May 29th, 2024

Early Bird Rate: USD$2600, paid in full by July 29th, 2024

Standard Rate: USD$2700, paid in full by August 29th, 2024

We are offering 4 work trade positions which give you a $250 discount on either food or tuition for working one hour each weekday supporting the site before breakfast or preparing & putting away breakfast. Two persons for each service.  These are the first options to go. Depending on when you pay in full, the discount is taken off the appropriate amount.

Payment can be made using Zelle, Paypal and  Venmo to Europeans and other international students can pay in USD using the Wise app/website using same email.

Please contact or Whatsapp +1(831) 212-7225 to register and ask any questions.

To hold your spot (there are 12 for new students and 3 for returning students), you can make a 50% deposit.  The balance owed depends on the date of payment in full. Final payment deadline is August 29th, 2024.


Students who have paid and cancel by July 29th, 2024 can get a full refund minus a 5% administrative/inconvenience fee on the amount they have paid.

Students who have paid and cancel by August 29th, 2024 will receive a credit for a future workshop within two years minus a 10% administrative/inconvenience fee.

Students who have paid and cancel after August 29th, 2024 will not receive a refund or credit unless they have proof of an emergency situation or other reason out of their control, in which case they will receive a credit for two years minus the 10% admin fee.




Location: Rock the Bells Homestead